The all inclusive board basis as we know it has evolved massively in the last 60 years. It has come to the point where it can be quite difficult to understand exactly what is being offered when the term all inclusive is used and quite rightly so as different resorts will offering varying degrees of food, drink and facilities that are available free of charge on site.
We have outlined a guide below to try and help people better understand what to expect when they arrive at their chosen resort but please remember that this guide is indicative only. Individual hotels and third party supplier interpretations of the board options can vary from country to country in much the same way that star ratings for hotels do. It is always wise to check directly with the specific hotel to ascertain exactly what you will receive on site.
The products and services included in an all inclusive break fit broadly into three categories...
This is the staple of an all inclusive holiday and less of a luxury and more of a necessity for the holidaymaker! The amount, style and standard of food and drink will however vary from resort to resort.
At the basic level there will be allotted meal times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There would be a good choice both local dishes and classic meals during these periods allowing an opportunity to try out different dishes throughout your stay. The drinks that would be available at this basic level would be locally produced beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks and water. Usually the drinks would be more readily available than the food and you would be able to satisfy your thirst throughout the day but there would probably be a cut off in the evening - this is more often than not specifically for the alcoholic beverages available as the bars serving them will shut at some point.
At a slightly higher standard of all inclusive things like snacks and light meals are available on request outside allotted meal times giving you more flexibility when it comes to when you want to eat. There may also be more than one restaurant on site offering different styles of cuisine. Nationally produced drinks also are a step up in standard and are made more readily available to you for longer periods.
At the very highest levels bespoke meals are available on request at any time during the day. There may be several restaurants all offering specialised meals focusing on different styles of cuisine and these will cook food to order. Various snack bars will also be available allowing you to take snacks away if a sit down meal is not ideal. Branded spirits, beers and soft drinks will be available at all times at several bars and some of the best resorts will even contain a full stocked and usable minibar in your room.
All inclusive used to be a fairly well trodden path between you room, the pool, the restaurant, the bar then back to your room. Things have changed however and the amenities that can be available on site these days are much more extravagant - check in to the five-star, all-inclusive Fortina Spa Resort in Malta for example and you can be treated to a fish pedicure! Obviously having your feet eaten by fish is an acquired taste and these more exotic on site amenities vary hugely dependant on the resort - examples of the type of thing to expect free of charge can be found below.
Off site amenities hark back to the early all inclusive adventure holidays offered by Club Med and these days tend to be a hallmark of the truly luxurious all inclusive resorts around the world. Head for the Jebel Ali Golf Resort in Dubai for example and staff will take you out to its desert ranch where you can do a bit of ‘camel cuddling’, which involves dressing, feeding and washing the creatures. Or, if you fancy flame throwers and acrobats to rival any Cirque du Soleil show, sign up to the Pirates Adventure theatre excursion when you check in to the all-inclusive Playa Mar Hotel in Majorca. Below is an idea of the type of things that can be available away from the hotel grounds themselves.